How to Make Characters Mind without Losing Yours

Last week, I noticed a book in my daughter’s diaper bag titled “How to Make your Children Mind without Losing Yours.” Oh, I remember that book well from the days that very same daughter challenged every request we made.

Now… my characters are acting up!

They simply won’t do anything I ask.

They have minds of their own, utterly oblivious to the fact that I created them!!

And I thought making children mind was a challenge!

But seeing that book in my daughter’s diaper bag reminded me of the key lesson that I never forgot from reading it. That was to let your children experience the consequences of their choices.

“So, dear character,” I said, “if that’s really the road you want to go down, guess what? You can live with the consequences.”

And they will be bad. Very bad. ~hee, hee, hee~

Yes, as oftentimes happens with children, characters need to learn their lessons the hard way. The harder the better for the reader. Wouldn’t you say?

So I threw out my neat little story outline, and put my characters on the therapist’s couch and had a serious heart-to-heart with each and everyone of them. Wow, was I surprised.

In some cases, the emotional baggage that I thought was driving their inner conflict wasn’t it at all! I had one character who wasn’t even who I thought he was!!

Needless to say, the weekend turned out to be quite an adventure as I caught up on all the writing I hadn’t been able to do while I’d been steadfastly trying to fit my characters into the mold I’d hatched them from. Now I understand why writers who write by the seat-of-their-pants enjoy it so much.

Every day is an adventure as you wait to see what happens next.

Of course… I have an eerie feeling that I’ll start losing my mind again during the editing phase, but why worry about tomorrow when today has enough trouble of its own?

Your Turn: What lessons have you learned from having to face the consequences of your actions? Or what lessons have your children learned that way?

P.S. Did you catch the book title on the book my grand daughter is reading in the photo? And Then I Had Kids

P.S.S. For any writers in the group, click the link for more detailed posts featuring writing tips and articles on the craft of writing


  • I am never sure whether what is happening in our lives is the consequence of an earlier action, or if it is the beginning of what will cause consequences later on….lol! However, I am trying to learn the lesson to NOT worry about tomorrow, and just concentrate on today and be grateful for all I have today.

  • I’m trying to remember that God has a plan and if He doesn’t see fit to make it privy to me I need to just whist and keep on trucking. 🙂 The consequences if I don’t. Worry, worry, worry. Angst. Angst. Angst.

    We had an interesting discussion on allowing children to experience consequences for their actions in Sunday School yesterday. How we’re robbing them of pivotal life lessons if we keep rescuing them. And the opportunity to connect with their Father in Heaven. So, now I’m wondering — were you actually trying to impede the fictional progression of your characters by trying rescue them from themselves? LOL.

  • Hehe, I have a love-hate relationship with maverick characters who don’t behave. 🙂

    Yeah, I’ve had to face consequences of my actions before…the amazing thing is, in those, “Maaan, why did I do this?” moments, God never feels harsh…but gentle and comforting. I can trust Him with the big picture of my life…and that’s an amazing truth. 🙂

  • Can totally relate to this right now! The hero in my fantasy is refusing to budge and I’m struggling to figure out why.

  • You are so funny! If I ever write fiction, I want to grow up to be just like you!

    yes, many consequences in my life, some not so happy. But I married a wonderful man; that’s one of the great ones!

Great to "see" you here today! I look forward to reading your comment.